OFF BEAT

OFFBEAT: Veteran Chicago actor Dale Benson receiving special Jeff Award next month

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-10-05T00:00:00Z 2013-10-06T15:31:06Z OFFBEAT: Veteran Chicago actor Dale Benson receiving special Jeff Award next monthBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

Actor Dale Benson is a familiar face and acting talent for many audiences.

He's graced stages ranging from Theatre at the Center in Munster to the Drury Lane theaters and the now no-more Candlelight Dinner Playhouse.

A special achievement Jeff Award is being presented to Benson at the Jeff Equity Awards Ceremony, Nov. 4, in recognition of his career spanning over half a century of continuous work in Chicagoland theatre. Dale, a beloved actor, is credited with enhancing innumerable musicals and plays with his irresistible presence in comedic character roles.

Benson has performed on 25 stages in the metropolitan area of Chicago, at the Fulton Theatre in Lancaster, Penn., and on the Swan Stage in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. A member of Actors Equity since 1959, he is proudly boasts he has been continuously employed over the course of his career and has never missed a contracted performance, similar to his perfect attendance as a student.

Some of Dale's favorite roles, for which he received accolades, include Hysterium in "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," Prince Nicki in "My One and Only," various roles in "Little Me," Sylvia St. Croix in "Ruthless" and Harry MacAfee in "Bye Bye Birdie," all at Candlelight Dinner Playhouse. He says he also has fond memories of playing Horace Vandergelder in "Hello, Dolly!" at Marriott Theatre, William in "You Never Can Tell" at Remy Bumppo and his favorite role, Captain Andy in "Showboat," which Dale performed at Candlelight, Drury Lane Oakbrook and Marriott.

Born in Creston, Iowa, Dale Benson graduated from Hyde Park High School in Chicago and received a BFA from the Goodman School of Drama, Art Institute of Chicago. Before dedicating his career to the stage, Dale served in the United States Air Force during the Korean War, doing Morse code weather reconnaissance duty. Dale married his lifelong love, the girl he met the first day of kindergarten, his late wife, Patricia, and has one son, Damien.

Over the course of his career, Dale has been honored with a National Career Award from the National Society of Arts and Letters. In 1959, he served as the Chicago Ambassador to the Humanities and Arts Conference in New York City sponsored by the Ford Foundation. He has earned seven Jeff Award nominations and one Jeff Award.

Dale attended the first Joseph Jefferson Awards Ceremony in 1968, which was a star-studded event held at the Ambassador Hotel, and, in Dale's young eyes, included what he describes as "the largest shrimp bowl in the world."

The 45th Annual Jeff Awards Ceremony honoring excellence in professional theater produced within the immediate Chicago area on Monday, Nov. 4 at Drury Lane Oakbrook, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace. The Ceremony, directed by Michael Weber and produced by Equity Chair Merril Prager, will feature live performances from nominated Outstanding Musicals, with many surprise appearances and presenters.

The Jeff Awards has been honoring outstanding theatre artists annually since it was established in 1968. With up to 52 members representing a wide variety of backgrounds in theatre, the Jeff Awards Committee is committed to celebrating the vitality of Chicago area theater by recognizing excellence through its recommendations, awards, and honors. The Jeff Awards fosters the artistic growth of area theater and theater artists and promotes educational opportunities, audience appreciation, and civic pride in the achievements of the theater community.

Each year, The Jeff Awards evaluates over 250 theatrical productions and holds two awards ceremonies annually. Originally chartered to recognize only Equity productions, the Jeff Awards established the Non-Equity Wing in 1973 to celebrate outstanding achievement in non-union theatre.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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